'Miracles' producer tells KU Cinderella story

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

With the second round of the NCAA Division men's tournament commencing today, plenty of March miracles could be in the making, but a Wichita native hopes to remind people of another miracle that took place 25 years ago.

Kurt Messersmith, brother of Hays resident Lauren Lowry and brother-in-law of Sunflower Electric President and CEO Stuart Lowry, served as the creator and executive producer of "The Miracles: The 1988 Kansas Jayhawks," a 49-minute documentary retelling the story of University of Kansas' 1988 national championship season.

Messersmith was a junior studying journalism when KU won the title.

"When Danny Manning signed his letter of intent, that's when I decided to go to KU as well," Messersmith joked.

The documentary premiered March 11 on CBS Sports Network and will be rebroadcasted at 7 p.m. March 26, 4 p.m. April 2 and 7 p.m. April 4, which will be the 25-year anniversary date of the championship.

"The Miracles," narrated by sports writer Jeff Chadiha, tells the story of the six years leading up to the national title as Larry Brown rejuvenated the program following back-to-back losing seasons under Ted Owens.

"A lot of people don't remember they had some pretty lean times when they transitioned from Ted Owens to Larry Brown," Messersmith said.

The 1988 team battled injuries and academic ineligibilities to the point that KU had a 21-11 record entering the national tournament. The Jayhawks received a No. 6 seed, but then they went on a run.

KU defeated No. 18 Xavier, Murray State, Vanderbilt, No. 20 Kansas State, No. 5 Duke and No. 5 Oklahoma en route to the title.

The documentary includes interviews with Brown, opposing coaches and 10 of the 12 active players on the squad.

"Not only is it a great Kansas basketball story," Messersmith said. "... We think it is one of the best underdog-Cinderella stories in basketball history."

After April 4, it will air regionally in the Kansas City metro area via Metro Sports and the Wichita area via Cox Cable. Messersmith said they hope to have it broadcasted on other stations that reach out to other parts of Kansas. The DVD and mobile app will be released in April soon after the Final Four.

For more information about future listings or updates on the DVD/mobile app, check www.sportshistory.com.